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A Standard List of Questions

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An Alliance commander that Biggs didn't recognize stuck her head into the pilots' lounge. "Heard there was someone here from Tatooine?"

 

"Ma'am," he said, standing. "I'm from Tatooine."

 

"Come with me," she said, and he put down his playing cards and followed her into the hallway. 

 

"We had someone come in from your homeworld, and we need a quick debrief. He helped rescue Princess Leia from the Imperial space station." She grinned. "Not a bad debut, really. Anyway, here -- standard list of questions--" she handed him a flimsy "--and we just prefer folks from the same culture, if we can, helps prevent miscommunication."

 

He skimmed the flimsy. "What do you know already?"

 

She checked another flimsy. "Uh, just a name. Luke Skywalker."

 

Biggs stopped dead. "You're -- you're kidding." He made his feet move again, just as she started to turn to him. "I know him. I grew up with him."

 

She raised her eyebrows. "Well, that makes things easier -- you can answer as much of that for me now as you can, and we can check it against what he says during your debrief."

 

"Luke's not gonna lie to us," Biggs said. He knew Luke -- odd, awkward, space-mad Luke -- almost as well as he knew himself. He looked at the questions. "Uh, he's nineteen. He grew up on a moisture farm on Tatooine with his aunt and uncle. When I was home last, I told him I was going to defect -- that a group of us in the Academy were going to defect -- I trusted him to keep it quiet. He's a good mechanic. He had a T-16, a good one, maintained it himself. He's a much better pilot than I am, better than anyone at the Academy with me. Good marksman. Encounters with the law -- there's not really law, on Tatooine. Sometimes the Empire comes around, but mostly it's run by Hutt gangs -- uh, if the Hutts knew what I know about Luke there'd be a bounty on him."

 

"And what's that?"

 

Biggs frowned, looking at her. "If I tell you, and it gets back home, his aunt and uncle will be in danger. Let's say, he's got experience in, uh, espionage and logistics." He smiled, a little ruefully. "I'm not surprised that he was able to get into and out of an Imperial space station, I suppose, though I imagine it's not very much like infiltrating slave quarters." 

 

She drew a sharp breath. "Slaves?"

 

Biggs blinked, surprised by her surprise. He felt slightly...offended, even, that she didn't know, though of course why would she? She had a Coruscanti accent. "Commander...Tatooine's got a lot of slaves. Half the population or so." She looked deeply shocked, so he continued more gently. "Darklighter's--" he tapped his chest "--a slave surname. So's Skywalker. Both of us were born free, but --" he shrugged. "Now you know. You see a name like that on someone from Tatooine, you know."

 

She flushed, a darkening of her warm golden-brown skin. "I'll keep that in mind," she said.

 

Biggs looked back at the flimsy. "Languages, Basic obviously, Huttese, Bocce."

She frowned. "No Binary?"

 

Biggs shrugged. "Most things that only speak Binary on Tattooine don't -- don't speak out loud. Not a lot of astromechs outside of the spaceports, and moisture vaporators and so on you have to use a translator -- they don't speak regular Binary anyway, and they won't talk to anything but droids." The commander was staring at him again. Core Worlds people were so strange. They knew little to nothing about the Outer Rim, and they never bothered to ask. He wondered who had thought to have people debriefed by those in their own cultures -- probably some Rim-worlder, sick of explaining everything. Sometimes he felt Rim-worlders had more in common with non-humans than they did with humans from the Core. Biggs cleared his throat. "Anyway. How'd he end up on that space station?"

 

"He was with General Kenobi, the Princess said."

 

"What, old Ben Kenobi? He's a general?"

 

"Obi-Wan Kenobi," the commander said. "The Jedi." There was some half-hidden strain in her voice.

 

Biggs swore in Huttese. "Never would have guessed. Old Ben, huh. He's here, too?"

 

"Died during the rescue," she said, and now he knew what the strain was. The Alliance had probably been counting on the old man to help them out, especially since Bail Organa had died on Alderaan. Well -- anyone who could survive years alone beyond the Dune Sea was resourceful, Jedi or not. 

 

They stopped outside an interrogation room. He could see Luke through the one-way glass, in the practical farmwear he wore everywhere, his face somehow older. Something shining through your skin, they used to say on Tatooine, a warning to a slave whose discontent might be visible to a master. He was shaken by a sudden premonition that whatever was shining through Luke's skin, it was the deepest grief his friend had ever known.

 

He took a long breath, nodded at the commander, and opened the door.